The 16 Fox-owned stations that produce news are trying to change the way they do latenight news and “break out of the box.” Among the innovations are debates, interviews and commentary about controversial local issues. Says AR&D’s Jerry Gumbert: “Fox realizes, perhaps better than some broadcasters, that the same old content and same old format and presentation style are barriers to future growth and relevancy with consumers.”
Steve Waldman, the FCC’s point man of saving local jounalism, might actually do some good by calling for full First Amendment rights for broadcasters. He can start by condemning the fines that the FCC imposed a couple of weeks ago on New Jersey’s tiny WMGM and Fox O&O KMSP Minneapolis for running VNRs. The fines are an affront to the free speech rights of all broadcasters. Waldman should say so and call on Congress to get out of the business of regulating TV and radio content.
The Minneapolis and Philadelphia market stations were fined by the FCC for airing video news releases during newscasts without properly identifying them. They were each fined $4,000. The charges were brought against them by Free Press and the Center for Media and Democracy.